Real Leaders

Cleancult: Refill, not Landfill

Cleancult keeping your home and the planet free of waste

Ryan Lupberger is helping lead the movement to clean up the cleaning industry. The Colorado native grew up valuing natural products, and upon reading the ingredients in his laundry detergent, he was concerned to see so many unrecognizable ones.

Lupberger started researching and became even more disheartened when he learned that many of the chemicals allowed in the U.S. are banned overseas, and there is no regulatory body overseeing cleaning products in the U.S. So, he was inspired to start Cleancult, a natural cleaning product company, in 2019. Cleancult sells hand soap, dish soap, all-purpose cleaners, and laundry detergent.

“As we further our mission, the goal to bring accessible sustainable solutions to more and more people is not only a fundamental business model, but also an innate responsibility to our community and the cleaning industry,” Lupberger says.

Not only does Lupberger care about what is in the products, but he also has achieved zero-waste packaging, as opposed to the industry-standard single-use plastic bottles. After all, Americans dispose of 40 million tons of plastic every year, only 5% gets recycled, and it takes over 500 years to decompose.

Lupberger spent a year traveling the U.S. to find the best solution and ended up having his own machinery built to create a patented, recyclable cardboard refill packaging similar to milk cartons that consumers are encouraged to transfer into glass dispensers (which they can purchase from Cleancult) for at-home use. The company uses Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper. Recently, it also introduced refillable aluminum bottles. Cleancult has diverted over 7 million pounds of plastic from landfills and oceans.

While other eco-focused cleaning product companies sell concentrated liquids or powder alternatives, Lupberger sees Cleancult as preferred for consumers who don’t want to add a step or change to powder.

“We want to go after the 99%,” Lupberger says. “We have to meet them where they are with ready-to-use formulas and ready-to-use bottles.”

Cleancult’s Support for Innovative Waste Management Projects

Cleancult is an activator in the U.S. Plastics Pact, a global network working toward a goal of having all plastic packaging be reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025. The company is a member of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition to take action toward packaging sustainability. Plus, it joined rePurpose Global, and its Plastic Neutral Certification helps fund and support sustainable waste management projects that recover and remove as much plastic waste from the environment as it uses in its packaging.

Among these initiatives lies Sueño Azul, supporting a cooperative of waste workers who have revolutionized waste management practices in Bogotá, Colombia.

When Lupberger started Cleancult, he launched a direct-to-consumer (D2C) website. “I really hoped D2C would work long-term,” Lupberger says. However, he found the digital marketing and shipping costs to be challenging, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

So, in 2021, Lupberger shifted the company’s focus to retail sales, debuting in a handful of regional grocers. In 2022, Cleancult entered Walgreens, CVS, and Bed Bath & Beyond. This year, in its largest retail expansion yet, it hit shelves at 3,000 Walmart stores across the U.S., as well as on its online marketplace. Plus, Cleancult is available on Amazon.com’s marketplace. Lupberger has been pleased with the results, with sales growing 50% year over year for the business overall (while sales are flat on Cleancult’s website).

“Through key retail partners, including Walmart, we have grown the brand’s retail presence by 7,500% since 2019 and are excited to continue on this positive growth trajectory,” Lupberger says.

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